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/var/mail/username gets wrong group and permissions (sh, elm)

Gregory Fruth
Esteemed Contributor

/var/mail/username gets wrong group and permissions (sh, elm)

I have a user whose mailbox /var/mail/username keeps
getting its group and permissions mangled by elm. When
the user exits from elm after having made a change to the
mailbox, the group on the mailbox changes from the
required "mail" to the user's primary group, and the
permissions change from the required 660 to 600. This
prevents sendmail from delivering any more mail to the

The user's umask is 022. Elm is setgid to mail, and it
works fine for all other users. The only thing about the
user that's different from everyone else is that he uses
/usr/bin/sh as his shell instead of tcsh. The permissions
on both tcsh and sh are 555.

For some reason, unsetting the MAIL env variable seems
to suppress the problem, but login sets MAIL automatically,
so I don't think that's a viable solution. Besides, I don't
see why MAIL should affect elm.

Anybody have any suggestions?
Greg Royle

Re: /var/mail/username gets wrong group and permissions (sh, elm)

can you let us know what version of HPUX and elm version (elm -v) you have. You are correct elm should not be affected by the MAIL environment variable, so says the EXTERNAL INFLUENCES section in the man page for elm on HPUX 11. However I found:

ELM 2.4 supports the use of MAIL environment variable and is available by loading the following patches. PHNE_8144

I run elm as a user with the posix shell and I do not have this problem. Please check also:

drwxrwxrwt 2 bin mail 1024 Apr 20 16:23 /var/mail

Need to verify version etc. though. My elm binary also has following permissions:

-r-xr-sr-x 1 bin mail 479232 Oct 27 1997 /bin/elm

same as yours I think.
Gregory Fruth
Esteemed Contributor

Re: /var/mail/username gets wrong group and permissions (sh, elm)

HP-UX 10.20. We're using Elm 2.5 PL2 from the Net
and not HP's Elm. Unfortunately, further testing indicates
that HP's Elm (212.4) does not exhibit the problem, while
the Net Elm 2.5 does, so it appears to be a problem with
Elm 2.5.
Greg Royle

Re: /var/mail/username gets wrong group and permissions (sh, elm)

Did you move to Elm 2.5 for a particular reason? If you made the move for a specific reason such as a bug or enhancement it maybe possible to check if HP have brought out a later version. My first look for a later version than 2.4 (other than the public domain one) was fruitless.
Gregory Fruth
Esteemed Contributor

Re: /var/mail/username gets wrong group and permissions (sh, elm)

Elm 2.5 has some added features over the Elm
that comes with HP-UX. You can get it at: